On January 5, the Houthis (Ansar Allah) announced that they had shot down a Chinese-made CAIG Wing Loong II combat drone of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force over the Yemeni province of Shabwah.
In a statement, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman for the Yemeni group, said that the drone was counducting “hostile operations” over the district of Usaylan when it was shot down.
“The drone was shot down with a locally-made ground-to-air missile,” the spokesman said without elaborating.
The Wing Loong II has an endurance of 32 hours and an operational range of up to 4,000 kilometers. This type of combat drones is known to be in active service with the militaries of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Last year, the Houthis shot down two Wing Loong II combat drones over Yemen. The first one was shot down over the border with the Saudi province of Najran on May 20, while the second was shot down over the northern province of Saada on September 13.
Currently, the UAE-backed Giants Brigades are leading a ground offensive against the Houthis in Shabwah. So far, the Houthis have been expelled from a few settlements in Usaylan. The battel there is still far from being over, however.
The shot down of the Wing Loong II, if confirmed, will likely slow down the ongoing offensive in Shabwah, giving the Houthis a chance to reorganize their defenses.